Project Management

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Topics: Organizational Project Management, Teams, Using PMI Standards
What is the difference between a Portfolio Manager and a Programme Manager?
I think the distinction between Project Management and Programme Management is somewhat easy to see in practice, but what is the distinction between Portfolio Management and Programme Management?
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Hi Jonathan – Very briefly I have put down for you, the role of a portfolio manager which revolves around managing one or more portfolios and working with different financial algorithms and financial models to align projects to the company’s strategic objectives. Portfolio Managers often develop management standards to guide the portfolio and they keep a high level view of everything within the portfolio. Collecting key project and organizational information, identifying company’s strategic goals, determine if these support those strategic objectives. Analyze the current strengths and weaknesses of Project Portfolio, project milestones, potential ROI, reporting schedule and resource allocation. The management aspect of the process you also need to view the project portfolio and make necessary decisions about allocation / reallocation of budgets, resources, prioritization. Portfolio should have a healthy mixture of risk, reward meet internal requirements. Adapt and make changes as you go.

Whereas the Program management is “A group of related projects, subprograms, and program activities that are managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.” It takes over the governance, the financial, and the management infrastructure side of a program and help establish “fit for purpose” procedures to deliver successfully.

Do take a look at a very detailed explanation

Hope it helps.

I have done all 3 of them.

In my experience, also the distinction between project and program management in practice is often not clear, each organization can set their own standards. Too often PMs are asked to deliver benefits or even value without having the tools and authority to do so - this creates a great confusion and less successful projects.

Between program and portfolio management, the distinction is that the program manager is primarily in charge to deliver benefits. For this the PgM will initiate projects that create outputs which together are integrated for delivering the benefits. Programs are time limited. They are about effectivity (projects are about efficiency). Benefits often create value only or mainly after the program ends. PgMs may use portfolio mgmt techniques, for the set of projects they initiate.

Portfolios are not time limited. They are regularly updated and with that provide the means to an organization to be more agile. They are selecting the optimal set of projects in the light of the assets and resources available, as such they may provide value.
Jonathan -

To add to Thomas's great response, I'd just say:

Portfolio management usually focuses on achieving strategic objectives for the company or division while maximizing your "bang for the buck".

Program (or programme if you prefer the British spelling :-) ) management focuses on achieving the outcomes or benefits expected from an integrated set of projects which couldn't be achieved by managing them as independent entities.


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